Michael Lanyon's Blog Notes and thoughts from LanyonM

CAMS Summer Camp


A few weeks ago I went to a Slate Gabfest recording in Chicago during which John Dickerson discussed the longing for a summer camp-like experience for adults. The panel felt that what made camp so special is that it is a truly immersive experience where activities push your boundaries, social interactions are constant, and experiences are formative. Campers have independence from typical authority figures and are freed from normal constraints (for more about camp, listen here). The Gabfest panel posed the question of whether conferences are a summer camp-like experience for adults - the audience laughed. I shook my head, feeling bad for most everyone in the audience, and as I sit here in one of my DevOpsDays tee-shirts, I’ll explain why.

If you know me, you know I’m into DevOps (a term I’ve come to dislike quite a bit for reasons I won’t go into here). I’ve been to a few DevOpsDays conferences and to me, they evoke the same feelings of immersion and enthusiasm as camp. This is epitomized by open spaces, where ideas are proposed, discussed and people float freely between sessions. The best way I have found to summarize DevOps is CAMS: culture, automation, measurement and sharing. It is these four things I reflect upon when leading my teams, and all good technology organizations or IT departments share these principles.

For the uninitiated, practicing CAMS will change your professional life.

  • The Culture is based on federated responsibility, open communication, and safe experimentation.
  • Automation removes the human hand in routine operations and enables fast feedback loops.
  • Measurement is all about situational awareness, providing the baseline data as well as gauging change.
  • Sharing amplifies the communication aspect of culture - discuss successes, failures, facts and theories.

CAMS creates an immersive experience very similar to camp. I know that means that some people will hate it, but, just like camp it will enable the creation of the formative experiences and solutions of its time. Being part of a DevOps organization can be intense. All the metrics of your application are at your fingertips and you can push code through the deploy pipeline to production in under an hour supported by a testing grid running the full suite of functional tests. All technical team members can trigger deploys and are encouraged to share the success (or failure) after features go public. Suffice it to say, it feels pretty free from the normal constraints.

I agree with the Gabfest crowd that time away from work is necessary to recharge, but being part of a DevOps organization can be just as energizing. Unfortunately, the term DevOps has been usurpted and turned into marketing hype about tooling, but it’s equally about culture - a culture that can be as intense, immersive and rewarding experience as those had at camp.